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From the Black Star Lines to Black Star Industries - Deputy Chair Ona Zené paves the way!

Oct 3, 2022

Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela builds Black Power at the Uhuru House Community Center/Akwaaba Hall in North St. Louis


On October 9, 1960, Ona Zené Yeshitela, formerly Cynthia Diane Clark, was born in St. Petersburg, Florida, in the city’s southside African community. Her family was of the stone-cold African working class, which came with a host of struggles stemming from colonial poverty and oppression.

In 1977, she graduated high school with honors and gave birth to her son, Octavius, on the same day.

She opened up her first business in 1990, Fergi’s Yogurt Shoppe, in downtown St. Pete where she began to learn the necessary skills to own and develop a business.

Throughout her life, her fierce determination to be self-sufficient was evident. She refused to surrender to the predetermined fate for Africans under colonialism. Instead, she worked tirelessly to develop solutions that would transform her material conditions.

This same drive, coupled with the theory of African Internationalism, has manifested itself in the work she leads within the African People’s Socialist Party’s (APSP) Office of the Deputy Chair.

In June of 1994, she first came in contact with the Uhuru Movement through her brother, Anthony, who brought her to the Uhuru Black Gym of Our Own, before it became the TyRon Lewis Community Gym.

She was assigned to lead various projects and committees such as the Uhuru Health Food Cooperative in 1995.

She joined the APSP in 2009–the same day she graduated with honors and Academic Excellence from Eckerd College.

All of the skills she had obtained from business management, managerial expertise from working in the Pinellas Park City Hall for 20 years and more, had been turned over to the African Revolution with Ona Zené’s commitment to fight until all Africans are free and independent.

Under her leadership, she instituted the use of Plans of Action (POAs), manuals and organizational training to strengthen our movement’s systems and professionalism.

Her creativity was unleashed and the economic work of our movement took on an entirely new character. Now, the Uhuru Movement has at least 50 economic institutions of dual and contending power, and we keep growing.

These institutions represent the foundation for the building of our liberated African economy, which has been laid out by Chairman Omali Yeshitela. The Chairman’s vision for this work is inspired by the powerful Garvey Movement of the 1920s, led by Marcus Garvey who fought for African self-determination.

Marcus Garvey and his Universal Negro Improvement Association boldly initiated projects and institutions that fostered African economic independence, negating the authority of colonial-capitalism.

One of his most ambitious endeavors was the establishment of the Black Star Line, a steamship company that put in our possession the capacity to trade and export on our own terms. It was this institution that would inspire the vision and creation of Black Star Industries (BSI), developed by Chairman Omali Yeshitela.

BSI brings all of the economic development institutions and projects of the APSP under one single umbrella. It also provides opportunities for community partnership subsidiary companies which benefit both BSI and enterprising individuals.

This massive task to lead our Party’s economic work was taken on by Ona Zené in 2013, where she was elected the position of the Deputy Chair.

Since 2017, she has spearheaded the building and growth of the powerful Black Power Blueprint, concentrated in St. Louis, MO.

This by no means is an adequate summation of the life and work of Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela, who is also the wife of Chairman Omali Yeshitela.

She is a brilliant leader in the African Revolution, and her signature touch can be seen throughout our entire movement.

We salute Deputy Chair Ona Zené Yeshitela!

Forward to a liberated African economy!
Down with the colonial mode of production!


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